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Akshay Kumar accepted he was abused as a child. Speak up if you faced it too

Actor Akshay Kumar’s narration of the sexual abuse he faced as a child has opened a can of worms about the issue that is way too common across society but is rarely spoken about.

sex and relationships Updated: Aug 01, 2017 12:26 IST
Jyoti Sharma Bawa, Hindustan Times
Sexual abuse,Akshay Kumar,Sexual abuse in India
Actor Akshay Kumar recently revealed how he was inappropriately touched as a child.(Photo: Yogen Shah)

Shame. That is the only feeling you are left with after abuse of any kind. It is far worse when it is sexual abuse. And imagine when it is done by someone you know, by someone you trust and probably also expected to respect. As a child, shame comes wrapped in confusion — was it something I did, should I tell anyone, will they believe me?

The adults would often not believe a child. Or they imagine all a child wants is attention. Or how would they accuse the uncle/father/grandfather/brother/relative who is part of the family? Akshay Kumar was among the exceptions. On Thursday, the actor revealed how he was inappropriately touched as a child but instead of keeping it all inside, he went to his parents.

“Let me share my own experience with you all here. When I was a very young kid, a lift-man once touched me inappropriately. Since I had good communication with my parents, I told them about this incident,” he said. The person was apprehended in yet another case. “Later the same person was caught in another case and was found to be a habitual offender,” the actor added.

According to a 2013 study by the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, half of all children in the country have experienced some form of sexual abuse. (Shutterstock)

As I said earlier, Akshay was luckier than most. He could put words to the horrific experience he went through. If you didn’t undergo abuse as a child, look around and you will find many. Are people ready to talk about it? Probably not. They hide it in a dark corner of their life where it continues to fester. Some could have repressed it, others are scarred for life.

According to a 2013 study by the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, half of all children in the country have experienced some form of sexual abuse. One in five have experienced a severe form of abuse. And the number of cases reported between 2001 and 2011 — only 48,000.

A recent survey by humanitarian organisation World Vision India across 26 states in India revealed that one in every two children is a victim of child sexual abuse. More than 45,000 children in the 12-18 age group participated in the survey. It also said one in four families don’t report the abuse.

You know why? Because I didn’t say it when it happened. Maybe you didn’t either. Or your spouse, or your friend, or your boss. Because yes, it is that pervasive.

Getting older doesn’t make talking about it easier. But the discussion needs to be started nonetheless — because the one who did it to you will do it again. He may be a relative or a neighbour or a family member but he is first and foremost a man who uses his position to abuse a vulnerable child.

Somebody broke my circle of trust and I was left wondering what I did wrong for years. A friend still has to go and meet the family’s favourite uncle despite his touch reminding him what happened 15 years ago when his parents were not home. A colleague talks about how her mother just got angry when she told her about what a doctor did to her in the name of ‘check-up’. She was asked to forget about it. She is two decades older and she still could not.

Make no mistake, we are all scarred but the shame will not let us reveal them to the world. The faith of our parents, open channels of communication and the awareness that it was NOT our fault could have changed us as people. I fervently wish we can do better by our children.

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First Published: Aug 01, 2017 11:45 IST